Marshall Elected President, New Members Welcomed to Board of Directors
Raymond J. Marshall, Executive Director of the Narragansett Bay Commission in Providence, RI and a strong leader within the municipal clean water sector, was elected NACWA President (2016-2017) by the NACWA’s Board of Directors on July 12. Also elected to serve with Marshall as the Association’s Officers for the 2016 – 2017 year were: Cathy Gerali, District Manager of the Metro Wastewater Reclamation District in Denver, CO as Vice President; David St. Pierre, Executive Director of the Metropolitan Water Reclamation District of Greater Chicago in Chicago, IL as Treasurer; and Mark Sanchez, Executive Director of the Albuquerque-Bernalillo County Water Authority in Albuquerque, NM as Secretary.
Marshall assumes the Presidency from Adel Hagekhalil, Assistant Director of City of Los Angeles – LA Sanitation, CA. NACWA extends its sincere gratitude to Hagekhalil for the outstanding leadership he provided the Association during his year as President.
NACWA’s members also elected a number of individuals to the Board of Directors at the Association’s Annual Business Meeting on July 12. Elected or re-elected to the Board were: John Sullivan, Chief Engineer of the Boston Water & Sewer Commission, MA; Andy Kricun, Executive Director/Chief Engineer of the Camden County Municipal Utilities Authority, NJ; Karen Pallansch, Chief Executive Officer of Alexandria Renew Enterprises, VA; Kishia Powell, Commission of the City of Atlanta Department of Watershed Management, GA; James ‘Tony’ Parrott, Executive Director of the Louisville & Jefferson County Metropolitan Sewer District, KY; Lester Sola, Director of the Miami-Dade County Water & Sewer Department, FL; Mark Sanchez, Executive Director of the Albuquerque-Bernalillo County Water Utility, NM; Terry Leeds, Director of Kansas City Water Services, MO; Steve Hershner, Director of the Utilities Department of the City of Cedar Rapids, IA; Harlan Kelly, General Manager of the of the City & County of San Francisco Public Utilities Commission, CA; and Sandy Kilroy, Assistant Director – Wastewater Treatment Division at the King County Department of Natural Resources & Parks, WA.
NACWA congratulates its new and continuing leaders and looks forward to a productive year.
Approved FY 2017 Budget Advances NACWA Communication, Advocacy Priorities
At its July meeting, NACWA’s Board of Directors took action to approve the Association’s Fiscal Year (FY) 2017 General Fund Budget and FY 2017 Targeted Action Fund (TAF) budget. These two budget provide strong financial support for the Association’s operations, strategic advocacy, and communication agenda over the coming year, ensuring that NACWA can provide its members with the highest level of service.
The approved FY 2017 General Fund includes a 6% dues increase for all membership categories in FY 2017, following recommendation outlined in a Board-approved FY 2017 – FY 2021 Financial Plan. In April 2016, NACWA’s Board of Directors approved the 5-year Financial Plan that charts a path for growth for the Association allowing effective pursuit of strategic advocacy, membership engagement, and communications objectives. Overall, the preliminary FY 2017 General Fund budget reflects approximately $5.7 million in revenues, $5.709 million in expenses and $35,000 in transfers from other funds resulting in net income after transfers of $25,000 for FY 2017 – meeting the target annual net income goal outlined in the 5-year Financial Plan.
In FY 2017, the TAF will continue to support numerous key Association initiatives and programs (see related article). TAF projects significantly bolster the effectiveness of the Association’s advocacy agenda, maximize the ability of Member Agencies to collectively conduct and complete initiatives identified as critical by the membership, and offer an incredible return on investment by saving clean water agencies millions of dollars annually in cost savings and avoided costs. Consistent with the Board-approved 5-year Financial Plan, the preliminary FY 2017 TAF budget includes $380,000 in revenues (a $13,500 increase over the FY 2016 allocation) and $50,000 in expenses for TAF projects resulting in net income, or projected funds available to allocate to additional projects, of $330,000 in FY 2017. Please see TAF Project Overview & Status Report for additional information on projects and initiatives currently supported by the Fund.
Also adopted by the Board was the Association’s FY 2017 Business Plan, serving as the annual implementation vehicle for NACWA’s Strategic Plan.
New TAF Projects Focus on Strategic Advocacy, Funding Opportunities
The NACWA Board, this week, approved two new projects for funding from the Association’s Targeted Action Fund (TAF). Both projects received the endorsement of key Standing Committees, as well as the Association’s Legislative & Regulatory Policy Committee. The first approved project builds upon NACWA’s efforts to strengthening federal policy links between regional flood control, stormwater management, and water reuse within the Water Resources Development Act (WRDA).
A second TAF project will support the development of a Resource Guide to Federal Funding Opportunities. The guide will focus on available funding that supports innovative approaches undertaken by clean water agencies to deliver clean water services to ratepayers.
Utility Leadership Conference Addresses Strategies for the Smart Utility
Over 200 clean water professionals gathered in Denver this week to attended NACWA’s 2016 Utility Leadership Conference & 46th Annual Meeting in Denver, Colo. to discuss leadership strategies for the “smart utility” of the 21st century and to network with colleagues from around the country.
Keynoting the conference was JP Pawliw-Fry, an expert on maximizing performance under pressure, who outlined the most important leadership skills necessary to perform optimally in high-pressure situations. He engaged the audience in a participatory, thought-provoking presentation.
The conference also featured a roundtable discussion lead by utility and private sector executives exploring strategies for transformational leadership; a panel presentation from clean water experts on sustainable management practices; and an interactive discussion among utility communication professionals about the key elements of effective communication by clean water agencies. The overall conference program highlighted how utility leaders are not only embracing innovation to move their agencies in new and exciting directions, but also how the Utility of the Future concept is fundamentally changing the way utility executives perceive their role as important innovators at the local and national level.
NACWA Member Agency the Metro Wastewater Reclamation District hosted the conference in Denver and provided participants with an in-depth tour of its Robert W. Hite Treatment Facility, demonstrating many of the innovative approaches the District is taking to meet its clean water goals. Presentations and handouts from the conference are available on NACWA’s website.
Association Committees Examine Key Clean Water Issues
A number of NACWA’s standing committees met as part of the Association’s Utility Leadership Conference, allowing participants to engage in discussion on important regulatory, legislative, and legal developments impacting the municipal clean water sector. Among the topics discussed in the committee meetings were:
- emerging EPA priorities on nutrient control and water quality issues;
- the need to address affordability concerns through innovative low-income assistance programs;
- the potential impacts of litigation from activist groups to undermine legal protections provided thought the Clean Water Act permitting program;
- the regulatory status of recovered resources from the wastewater treatment process;
- key clean water legislation pending in Congress; and integrated planning initiatives
Handouts from the committee meetings can be accessed on NACWA’s website. NACWA will continue to explore new formats for standing committee meetings that can foster even more discussion and collaboration.
Congress Leaves for Summer Recess with Unfinished Business
Members of Congress faced an extended summer recess last week with a handful of uncompleted appropriations bills. As a result, when it returns in September Congress will be under pressure to quickly pass a continuing budget resolution before the Fiscal Year ends September 30th in order to avoid a government shut-down. Although the past few months have exposed bitter partisanship, Members of Congress did come together on comprehensive energy legislation, opioid legislation and GMO food-labeling legislation before they left town.
Notable efforts for NACWA members included agreement by the Senate to go to conference with the House on a comprehensive energy reform bill. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) enlisted a group of Senate conferees to join their House counterparts in crafting a joint energy reform bill. If signed into law, the bill would be the first major revision in federal energy policy in nearly a decade. Although congressional leadership has taken the first step in ushering the package towards the President’s desk, it faces an unsure future in conference due to several “poison pill” provisions included in the House version. However, the Senate version (S.2012) includes a number of provisions related to the energy-water nexus that NACWA supports, and the Association will work to ensure these provisions are included in a final package.
Facing partisan backlash, the House proposed FY17 Department of Interior-EPA appropriations bill, H.R. 5538 , nevertheless was able to make its way through that chamber, receiving approval along partisan lines after debating over 130 amendments. Of interest to NACWA members, the bill includes provisions to fund theWater Infrastructure Financing and Innovation Act (WIFIA) at $50 million dollars and provide $6.5 million for integrated planning activities. The House package proposes steep cuts to the Clean Water State Revolving Fund (SRF) Program of $400 million while proposing a slight increase of $100 million for the Drinking Water SRF. Overall, spending for both SRF programs would be reduced by nearly $400 million should the House package be adopted. Rather, the Senate EPA (S. 3068) spending proposal restores nearly all the proposed cuts to the CWSRF ($1.35 billion) while increasing the DWSRF slightly to $1.02 billion. The Senate package also includes funding for WIFIA ($30 million) and $3 million for integrated planning activities. Unfortunately, the Senate was unable to complete work on its Interior-EPA spending bill before the recess.
Finally, despite a promising start and significant advocacy from a wide range of stakeholders including NACWA, both the House and Senate left Washington without floor consideration on the 2016 Water Resources Development Act (WRDA). The House WRDA package (H.R. 5303) contains authorizations for 28 Army Corps of Engineers (ACOE) projects as well as a stormwater provision proposed by NACWA that would increase coordination between the ACOE and municipal stormwater agencies. The much broader Senate (S. 2848) package includes numerous provisions related to clean water and drinking water infrastructure investment, as well as ones that address affordability challenges under the Clean Water Act. Consideration by both the House and Senate of their respective WRDA bills, and the beginning of potential conference discussions, will have to wait until September’s work period. The Association has compiled key resources related to WRDA here, including relevant factsheets and outreach letters to Congress.
NACWA will spend the rest of the summer meeting with key Congressional staff and coordinating with other stakeholders to encourage prompt Congressional consideration of priority legislation, especially WRDA, when lawmakers return in September.
Concerns Remain Over Revised Selenium Criteria
EPA published its revised water quality criterion for selenium in the Federal Register on July 13, concluding a multi-year process during which the Agency worked to develop criteria values that better reflected how selenium affects aquatic life. Selenium is bioaccumulative and can be found at high levels due solely to its natural occurrence in certain soils, adding to the complexity of implementing the criterion. Selenium's impacts on fish reproductive tissues led EPA to develop a suite of criteria values, including concentrations in egg/ovary tissue, as well as whole body tissue. The criterion, however, also includes a water column concentration to appease environmental activist groups who argued that the fish tissue numbers are too difficult to implement.
Consistent with NACWA's comments, the final criteria include a stated preference for using the fish tissue based values. However, there is also concerning language that suggests EPA may be backing away from this preference in the permitting context. The implementation guidance on evaluating fish tissue levels, that EPA committed to release with the criterion is not yet ready, but the Agency has assuaged some concerns by indicating that the criterion’s “never to be exceeded” fish tissue values will not be based on a single fish.
The criterion and related response to comments documents are lengthy. NACWA will continue to evaluate potential impacts and will plan to engage, as needed, as the Agency finalizes its implementation guidance.